Sunday, November 4, 2007

Constructivist Learning Environments

Constructivist learning environments focus on giving students authentic, real-world, ill-structured problems to solve. As a teacher, I could easily administer constructivist learning lessons using the open ended structure of the Hannifin, Land and Oliver model. Or, I could pursue the prescriptive model of David Jonassen.

In my fifth grade classroom, technology is an integral part of all learning. To facilitate learning about the U.S. Constitution, I would begin with the Hannifin model, I would give them an online rubric of information pertinent to our 5th grade curriculum and NYS standards, scaffolding on the previous year's curriculum and successful IEP goals. I would set up a situation where the students are required to find out this information to post on their blogs, for our blog buddy classrooms. Our buddies in Canada or Latin America will be sharing their own government history on their blogs. Edited 11/9/2007: To make the activity more constructivist, I would apply this situation:

Dear Student,
Pretend you are a delegate at this time in history and that you are responsible for the order of first 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights prior to their placement in the U.S. Constitution. Pretend you dropped them on the floor and they are now all out of order. Research to find out what the first 10 amendments were, and re-order them by importance based on your opinion. Explain each amendment and then explain why you ordered the amendments the way you did. You may use the following resources in your research in addition to your textbook and class notes:

Videos/text on the Constitution:

Students could use the library or internet to gather the information they need to improve their understanding of the Constitution of the United States. However they choose to find the information and present it would be totally up to them, but here are some web 2.0 tools for them to consider for their presentations:
Using the Jonassen model, I would need to consider more complex learning structures for students, so they would learn from their failures rather than their successes. Opportunities for challenge via web quests or educationally appropriate video games meet the requirement for the Jonassen model. Debates with other U.S. schools via skype would also create learning opportunities with various cases and multiple perspectives. These were some online applications that I found:

A New Nation Scavenger Hunt
Constitutional Debate Webquest (Modified for Elementary Students)

While constructivist activities such as the ones shown above can be of a collaborative nature, the success of teamwork and collaboration can be negatively impacted by group dynamics. Collaborative teams should be made to reflect a delicate balance of experience, creativity, strengths and weaknesses.


Sharon said...

I went with WebQuests as a way to guide constructivist learning too! I think we're on the same wave length!

Miss DeLauro said...

That's a great idea to give the students a rubric. I may try that with my next constructivist lesson.